By Steve Corkran
Saturday, September 17th, 2011 at 10:54 am in Oakland Raiders.
Wide receivers were a popular commodity in the 2008 NFL draft, with 35 selected during the seven-round process.
Long after such notables as DeSean Jackson, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Royal were selected, the Buffalo Bills drafted Stevie Johnson in the seventh round with the 224th pick and the Raiders took Chaz Schilens two picks later.
As further evidence of what a crap-shoot the draft is, the Raiders selected Arman Shields in the fourth round in the same draft.
Johnson was the 31st receiver snatched up, Schilens the 32nd. Schilens caught 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns his rookie season, and he appeared headed for a productive NFL career.
Johnson snared 10 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns for the Bills in 2008. He added only two for 10 yards the following season.
Then came 2010, when Johnson had the breakout season Raiders fans hoped to see from Schilens at some point.
Johnson caught 82 passes for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Schilens caught five passes for 40 yards and one touchdown.
Bills coach Chan Gailey said Johnson has developed into a much better player than he thought he would when he scouted him at Kentucky.
“I had evaluated him when he came out, when I was in Kansas City,” Gailey said. “I thought he was a good player but I didn’t know he was this good, to be honest with you. A lot of people didn’t, or he wouldn’t have gotten drafted in the seventh round.
“He’s been a great surprise and I’m happy for him. He’s a good young man. He’s come a long way and we have a great deal of confidence in him right now.”
Naturally, injuries have been the biggest obstacle for Schilens since he joined the Raiders. He is healthy once again and hopeful of the kind of season Johnson had last year.
In Oakland’s first game, Schilens didn’t have any passes thrown his way. Johnson caught four for 66 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo’s 41-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Overall, Johnson’s career stats dwarf those of Schilens. He has twice as many receptions (98-49), almost twice the yardage
(1,251-631) and more than twice the touchdowns (13-5).
“It was just opportunity, that’s it,” Johnson said. “Nothing clicked, it was just Gailey giving me an opportunity, and my receivers coaches putting me in the right spot and making sure I’m on game for each week,” Johnson said.
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